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Rugby Theatre review: Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry

Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry, Rugby Theatre, to March 12.

Review by Sue Beech

This production is the first at Rugby Theatre for two years, and the reopening was clearly very popular with the largely local audience.

No matter how well versed you might be in Tudor history, you will get a whole new perspective on Henry’s six wives from this performance, which successfully combines Tudor bawdiness with contemporary comment and wit. It is a hugely entertaining romp, mixing word and song to great effect. The multi-talented cast members accompany the songs with a variety of instruments, including virginals, recorder, squeeze-box, and guitar.

Imagine the six women condemned to spend purgatory together on a huge bed, forever competing to be ‘Henry’s Best Queen’. Each of them has her own particular character and characteristics, and each in turn explains to the audience how difficult her own time with Henry was – ‘You have no idea…..'.

They combat boredom with pastimes and activities, bitching and battling, sharing memories and swapping insults with abandon.

The costumes are unusual: Tudor headdresses and elaborate bodices complete with long, full sleeves, worn over black leather trousers! They allow frolics and frivolities that would be impossible in long skirts.

The production is slick and fast-paced, with superb timing and lots of surprises – not least in the casting. An amateur company this may be - none of the team does this as their day job - but the production could not be more professional.

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